I am sitting on the beach at Seagrove on 30A. My son, Derby, and I took a quick trip to the beach with family. A last hurrah to close out summer. School starts back in a few weeks and my routine will go back to “normal”.

We almost did not make this trip. I was too busy. There was too much work to be done. Football tryouts start this week for my son, Derby, and he will be missing the first day of tryouts. My daughter, Maggie, is entrenched in BHS High School soccer training where she made the varsity team as a sophomore. She and my husband Derby had to stay behind and miss this trip. I had several excuses not to go.

But as I get older, I have fundamentally changed. I order the dessert. I take the trip. I go to the show after a long day of work when I am tempted to stay home. I sometimes question the majority. I spend the money. I speak my truth, even if it is the unpopular thing.

My family has jokingly started to refer to mom’s new attitude as YOLO. (You only live once).

My sister-in-law, Erin, invited us to the beach, and we had a free place to stay. Derby has four sisters and we have all been going to the beach together for over 20 years, since Derby and I were dating.

Derby’s father, the late Tim Jones, decided when his first grandchild (Trey) was born that we would all go to the beach each summer. He wanted his grandkids to grow up together and make memories. There are nine grandkids in all. He wanted his kids and their spouses to be close. Maybe he thought we would need each other for whatever life brought our way.

Tim passed away seven years ago after a courageous battle with cancer. But the tradition he started continues and his legacy lives on.

As I sit here alone on this beach, I am grateful. Grateful for family and extended family. Grateful for cousins and the bond that these nine children share. I am grateful for experiences and not “things”. I am grateful for my faith, my friends and my community.

Life is full of messy parts and difficulties. But it is also full of those times at the end of the day at the beach where you sit in a circle with your sister and brother in-laws and tell tales and reminisce, laugh and chill out. You don’t have anywhere else to be or any place you would rather be.

I am grateful to Tim for being wise and giving us the gift of a tradition that has shaped us all.

So the next time you have an opportunity – take the trip, order the dessert,

and always speak your truth, even if your voice shakes.

YOLO, Cassie

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